Investors hamster gold and push traders to their limits

Frankfurt Precious metal traders in Germany are currently observing gold demand that significantly exceeds the level at the time of the financial and euro crisis. Robert Hartmann, Managing Director at Pro Aurum, says: “We had the absolute top day on Monday. Sales were 50 percent above the previous record of 2011. “Önder Ciftci, head of the Ophirum retailer, confirms:” We have queues in front of the branches. ”

However, given the fear of being infected with the corona virus, many retailers are closing their showrooms. For example, the branch in Hamburg no longer opened per Aurum on Tuesday. The Goldhaus in Munich and the branch in Berlin also close on Wednesday on the orders of the authorities. “I assume that the other federal states will follow suit,” says Pro-Aurum boss Hartmann.

All the more, however, the web shops are overrun. Pro-Aurum boss Hartmann admits that the online shop of his house was temporarily unavailable due to high traffic. There is still investment gold, such as Krugerrand or 100-gram bars. However, the delivery time is up to eight days. “We have to process thousands of orders a day. We are no longer able to deliver gold ad hoc, ”says Hartmann. Ophirum boss Ciftci, who also has a large online business, emphasizes: “We are one of the few providers that are still on the market.”

The competitor Degussa is apparently almost completely sold out: In the company’s web shop, almost every investment product, from Krugerrand to the Kilobarren, says: “Available shortly.” A spokesman said that Degussa was currently unable to answer questions from the Handelsblatt. Particularly bitter for the company: It is the second time in a short time that Degussa has delivery problems.

Investors need to be patient

At the end of December the dealer was practically sold out. At the turn of the year, the federal government lowered the upper limit for anonymous gold purchases from 10,000 euros to 2,000 euros. This ensured a run on the precious metal shortly before the new regulation came into force.

Robert Vitye, head of the Solit Group, which specializes in gold investments and operates the Gold-Silber-Shop.de website, asks its customers for patience in a video message published on YouTube: “Under these circumstances, please understand that we In this exceptional situation, you cannot fully meet all of your concerns. ”

One reason for the bottleneck in many online shops is likely to be the “Competence Center for Grades and Precious Metals” of the Bayrische Landesbank in Nuremberg. BayernLB supplies many dealers, but no longer accepts new orders, two industry insiders report. Many online retailers “depend on BayernLB’s drip,” says an expert who does not want to be named. BayernLB does not comment on the details, but a spokesman confirms: “At BayernLB, too, we are increasingly noticing the strong restrictions in the supply chain in the variety and precious metals trade.”

The problem: The large bar manufacturers such as Valcambi and Argor-Heraeus are located in Ticino, the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. Many employees commute from Italy to Switzerland every day. The closed borders therefore create chaos. An industry expert reports that important employees of the refineries have already been quartered in hotels to ensure bar production.

Embossed bars in particular, which require many manual operations, are becoming scarce. In contrast, cast bars, such as those offered by Argor-Heraeus, are produced fully automatically. On request from Heraeus: “In order to meet the high demand for investment bars in the precious metals sector, we are currently focusing on cast 100-gram gold bars. In this way, we keep capacities free for smaller embossed bar sizes. ”Embossed 50 and 100 gram bars can be ordered at any time on customer request, but you have to be prepared for longer delivery times.

In addition, the value transports that deliver the gold from Switzerland to Germany are currently stuck in traffic at the borders. Think about air transportation, the industry says. “As long as the supply chains are working, we will have new gold reserves in the next few days,” says Pro-Aurum boss Hartmann.

Volatile gold markets

The scarcity of bars and coins has an unpleasant side effect for private investors: the premium for this, i.e. the premium over the spot market price, has risen sharply. For Krugerrand, the most widespread investment coin, the price per ounce is around eight percent above the market price, says Hartmann. In the euro crisis, the premium was about 13 percent. “The high volatility on the gold market means that we cannot set the usual spreads between purchase and sale prices.”

Both customers and dealers carry a higher price risk in these market phases. Because the price is set the moment the customer clicks on “buy”. But it can sometimes take days until the order is processed and the gold is with the customer. During this time, the gold price can fluctuate significantly – if it falls, the customer has made a loss, if the price goes up, the dealer. On Tuesday alone, the gold price fluctuated between $ 1,470 and 1,520 per troy ounce. To reflect this risk, many traders are increasing the spread between the purchase and sale price.

However, Ophirum boss Ciftci promises his customers not only to increase the premium, but also the purchase price. “At the moment, customers can sell gold to me above the spot market price.” At the moment, he is offering a price per ounce that is ten euros above the world market price.

More: Why the gold price falls despite the stock market crash.

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